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Retrofitting the American Dream: An Ethnography of Suburban Redesign
Thursday, October 27, 2016

 There has been much speculation about the future of the suburban American dream as volatile economic conditions, energy concerns, and climate change make the low-density landscape of single-family homes increasingly unviable. There has been a growing literature on architecture, planning, and policy efforts to reimagine automobile suburbs for a more sustainable future, yet here has been little ethnographic research that explores the transformation of sedimented ideals and ways of being as people’s everyday routines and familiar spaces shift amid efforts to retrofit the material and social landscape of suburbia. Drawing on fieldwork in South Jordan, Utah—one of the fastest growing suburbs in the United States due to the ongoing construction of Daybreak, a massive, master-planned, environmentally friendly, mixed-use transit-oriented community built on reclaimed land once used for mining activities—this talk asks: is a nascent “new normal” emerging out of the environmental limitations, “cruel optimism,” and segregationist design of the postwar American dream? Given that Daybreak was designed and first developed by a land development subsidiary of one of the largest mining companies in the world, this talk sheds light on the formation of new subjectivies and new regimes of governance at the intersection of sustainable urbanism, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and social justice concerns.

Time: 5:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
Sponsor: Anthropology Program; Environmental and Urban Studies Program
Contact: Laura Kunreuther.
Phone: 845-758-7215

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